Thursday, June 4, 2020

The Right Graphics for The Right Job

Graphics plays a significant role in the application of foil stamping, embossing and debossing. 
Preparing your graphics for any embellishment will require some consideration not only for your graphics but the kind of substrate used for your project.

Before starting your graphics, one needs to consider the finished piece. For example:

1.) Paper is critical as it come in many weights, textures, and finishes
2.) Leather and vinyl possess the same characteristics but are also soft, hard, or padded.
3.) Textiles can be foiled but may be treated for wear or moisture that can repel your choice of foiling.

Preparing the graphics for foil stamping is simple.

1.) Produce good vector art using a type face that is open and not condensed.  If you are using serif typeface try to keep your line weights between 75 (3/4 Pt) and 100 (1pt).  If you use a finer point, the line may break or be lost in the etch process when manufacturing a foil die.
2.) Use a type no smaller than 7pts and letter space small type as much as possible. Script and other ornamental faces should be no less than 10pts.
3.) Reverse copy has always been an issue with foil stamping.  Try to avoid using small thin copy that is reversed out of solids.  If you must use reverse copy keep the reverse copy bold, no fine lines, or serifs.

Also, exceptionally large solid areas can be a challenge for the press person as they try to print a uniform coverage of the foil while keeping the reverse graphics open and legible.  As an alternative, try using borders instead of reverses around your main copy. 


The printing application for embossing requires a female die (usually a metal one) with all the copy etched in reverse or sunken. A male counter die is formed or molded from the female die. For the male counter the image is raised on the plate.  

The counter pushes the substrate into the embossing die producing a raised image or emboss on the substrate.

When preparing graphics for embossing think of bold or solid copy for the main part of your embossed piece. 

1.) Line art is good for detail, but just make it heavier. 
2.) Outlines and borders should be bold, nothing below a 2pt. rule.  If the emboss die registers to print or foil, and your print or foil areas vary in copy weight, do not be too concerned about the thick areas as the print or foil will carry the lack of emboss in these areas.

If you are blind embossing (No color or registration) you need to keep your copy bold, use a typeface that is legible and letter space as much as possible.

Personally, I do not like to emboss any type unless it has sufficient weight to hold the emboss.

Deboss on Leather


Many people confuse this application with embossing.  Deboss pushes the graphics down into the substrate, (Paper, Leather, etc.,) your image is recessed not raised on the finished product.

So, graphics for debossing should be much bolder,

1.) increase line weighs as much as possible, stay away from debossing small type as it loses its readability,
2.) letter space as much as you can and
3.) line should be no less that a 2pt. rule.

When debossing leather or vinyl still think bold, but you can use outlines if they have weight.  You can outline your image with a 2pt to 3pt rule or larger depending on the size of your copy. By using an outline, only the outline will deboss into the leather.  The leather within the outline will look like it is raised giving you an embossed look. This is a great way to deboss – emboss leather or vinyl and a simple application for the stamper.

So, as you can see graphics plays a significant role when you are foiling, embossing or debossing. If you have questions, please leave them in the comments section.

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